Remove stems from figs and cut in half if large; set aside. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 teaspoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, turning occasionally, to brown all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer beef to slow cooker.
Reduce heat to medium and add 2 teaspoons oil to skillet along with onion and garlic. Stir and cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of water if onions brown too quickly.
Add wine, undrained tomatoes and beef broth to skillet. Simmer 1 minute, stirring with wooden spoon to scrape up brown bits from bottom of pan.
Pour wine mixture over meat in slow cooker. Stir in figs, carrots, bay leaves and lemon zest.
Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (or on high for 4 to 5 hours) or until meat is tender.
To serve, remove bay leaves and lemon zest. Stir in olives and sprinkle with thyme or parsley. Serve with buttered noodles, polenta or steamed new potatoes, as desired.
Makes 6 to 8 servings (about 8 1/2 cups).
* Remove strips of lemon zest (yellow part only) with vegetable peeler.